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Local governments want climate change to go under EU’s Environmental Implementation Review  

Brussels 24 April 2017 - The Commission for environment, climate change and energy (ENVE) of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has met in Brussels with the new Energy Union governance, climate finance and electricity markets on top of the agenda. Commissioner for Environment Karmenu Vella presented the latest developments of the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) while MEP Claude Turmes supported CoR members in their search for tangible mechanisms of multi-level energy governance. Energy efficiency in buildings and the EU space policy are also in ENVE's working plan.

Commissioner Vella presented the latest developments of the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR), a process launched in May 2016 to identify why environmental law in Europe is deficiently executed, define recommendations for better compliance and boost political debates in the Environment Council. Commissioner Vella announced the first round of EIR dialogues, which have taken place in Estonia, Belgium and Slovakia and invited the CoR to encourage Member States to reunite in their EIR dialogues national, regional and local authorities in an attempt to address common root causes of ineffective implementation. Commissioner Vella revealed the EIR peer-to-peer tour will be launched this autumn at an event at the CoR to allow Member States, regional and local environment authorities to exchange their expertise. Commissioner Vella indicated that public-private partnerships should be further considered as an efficient way to manage Natura 2000 sites.

Commissioner Vella contributed to the exchange of views of an upcoming opinion on EIR lead by Andrew Cooper (UK/EA). The member of the Kirklees Council highlighted the need to work on data as to make it a ‘meaningful comparable tool for improving environmental implementation’. Cooper calls the EC to integrate climate change, chemicals and the Industrial Emissions Directive into the EIR cycle. The CoR working document asks the EC to develop a code of conduct for national EIR dialogues and vertical cross-governmental dossiers teams so to ensure cities and regions are fully integrated in the revision exercise.

The ENVE commission appointed Marco Dus (IT/PES) as rapporteur of an upcoming opinion on climate finance which final adoption is foreseen during October’s plenary session. To be considered as credible partners in UN climate talks, cities and regions need to demonstrate they can deliver climate action. As the document is to contribute to COP23 discussions, the opinion’s goal is to improve how climate finance instruments are designed and used so cities and regions can make further contributions to tackling global warming.

ENVE adopted Bruno Hranic (HR/EPP) draft opinion on the Energy Union governance and clean energy package. Hranic believes that EU Member States can succeed with the Energy Union only if their planning and reporting formally considers the know-how of cities and regions. During the debate, the European Commission services expressed their awareness of this fact, and the rapporteur of the European Parliament, Claude Turmes has pledged his support to the CoR's amendments aiming to improve draft legislation by including explicit references to multi-level governance. In this respect, the CoR should be included in the Energy Union Committee to be set up by the European Commission, because the bulk of clean energy efforts will be delivered locally, be it new renewable power plants, insulated buildings or involvement of local communities in ownership of such projects. The rapporteur has also called for more a business-friendly environment which could be achieved through targeted signals, strategies, standards and regulations and with the right support from financial instruments in which public funds are deployed to facilitate private investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency.The rapporteur's proposals will be discussed with a range of stakeholders during the EU Sustainable Energy Week in June and with the Estonian Presidency and other EU institutions during the external ENVE conference in Tallinn on 3 July, before its adoption during the CoR's plenary session 12-13 July.

ENVE adopted a draft opinion on ‘energy efficiency and buildings’ led by rapporteur Michiel Rijsberman (NL/ALDE), Regional Minister of the Province of Flevoland. Rijsberman said: ‘We need higher energy efficiency targets if we are to meet the pledges of the Paris agreement. The European Commission proposes to increase the energy efficiency target from 27% to 30% by 2030 yet we consider a binding target of 40% achievable and which would lead to a 50% CO2 reduction by 2030 instead of 40%. Rijsberman pointed out that a higher energy saving target would "reduce the EU's gas import of 60% and create of 1.2 to 3.2 million additional jobs in Europe".

Members adopted Daiva Matoniene’s (LT/ECR) draft opinion on ‘renewable energy and the internal market in electricity’. The member of the Šiauliai City Council and former Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Environment said: ‘We must create the favourable conditions for the optimal use of clean energy and for achieving an efficient electricity market. We welcome the 'Clean Energy for All Europeans' package precisely as it intends to achieve that. The European Commission must, however, pay more attention to the development of new environmentally friendly and energy efficient technologies. We must open up the electricity market and achieve greater integration. We also welcome the EC green trade certificate system as it will facilitate trade and making progress on a truly integrated market. For the success of this package, the EU must pay more attention to the positive role that local and regional governments can play in supporting energy communities", concluded Daiva Matoniene’s.

ENVE members had an exchange of views on the working paper ‘A space strategy for Europe’ by rapporteur Andres Jaadla (EE/ALDE). Jaadla recalled the space sector generates some €50 billion added value and 200.000 jobs. The member of the Rakvere City Council stressed the opportunities space policies can bring to towns and regions and announced a ‘space week’ in November, to be organised by the Estonian EU presidency to start next July. It will have the objective of promoting space policy and bring visibility to its multiple applications.

Estonia will host next ENVE commission meeting, to take place in Tallinn on 4 July 2017.


David Crous
Tel. +32 (0)470 88 10 37

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